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The Nuances Of Washing And Drying Your Knives Correctly

By:David Olkovetsky

We’re always asked, “how do you care for your knives, so they last forever?” The truth is, it’s all about building good kitchen habits. Luckily, there’s nothing complicated or fancy here, just some basic principles that will keep your blades in superb working condition. This tip will help you keep your knives looking great.

Wash + Dry immediately after use.

Don't leave your knife in the sink or on the cutting board: One of the most common errors home cooks make, is leaving their high-end knives out on the cutting board or marinating in the sink for hours after cooking with them. Hell, line cooks get kicked out of the kitchen for doing it because it’s also dangerous—another cook might reach into the sink and cut themselves. 

“Moisture is the enemy of steel. So are acid and salt.” —David Olkovetsky

Here’s why it’s also bad for your knives: Leaving your knife dirty, means that a part of the beautiful meal you just finished prepping is still sitting on that blade. Anything acidic or salty or moist is actively trying to eat away at your blade steel and handle. Our founder, David Olkovetsky always says, “Moisture is the enemy of steel. So are acid and salt.” Acids and salts attack the free chromium in your knives, and it’s chromium that makes a “stainless steel” knife, stain-less. Excess, or free chromium (Cr) makes a passive film that protects your blade from rust and patina, so if you want to give the Cr a bit of a boost, wash your knives off right after use.  We know this might appear to be obvious at first, but it’s still worth talking about how to properly wash and dry your knives, in detail. 

Washing:

  1. Avoid the dishwasher like the plague: Never ever place a quality knife in the dishwasher unless you are actively trying to ruin it. It is a hurricane of near-boiling water and highly abrasive detergent. It will chip, dull, and corrode your knives, including a high probability of causing pitting corrosion—a particularly nasty, localized form of corrosion. Finally, the high temperatures and wet conditions will rapidly eat away the epoxy that holds your handle together, and you'll soon have a totally useless knife handle. 
  2. Hold the knife by the handle: Ideally, in your dominant hand. 
  3. Hot Water: Run warm or hot water, and not just because it feels nice—it actually serves a purpose—which we’ll get to in a minute. 
  4. Use only non-scratch sponges: These can be found next to heavy duty sponges at the grocery store. Heavy duty sponges can actually dull your knife’s edge, because aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃) on the scouring side is high Rockwell and used in abrasives. 
  5. Dish soap: Applying any of the name brand dish soaps to the sponge. 
  6. Avoid slicing the sponge: Never cut into the sponge with a sharp knife. Sharp knives will slice right through it. 
  7. Scrub the knife: Go ahead and scrub down the entirety of the blade with the sponge. Make sure to get any stuck-on food. 
  8. Wash off the soap: Now wash all the soap off with warm water. It’s always best when washing to use your helping hand to ensure you got all the soap off. We’re able to feel residual soap much more easily than we can see it. 

Drying: 

Now that you’re done washing, there’s one step left—drying. 

We mentioned earlier that it’s good to wash with warm or hot water, and the reason is that it makes drying your knives, and all of your dishes easier. Warm and hot water evaporate more readily off the blade, so it will be easier to dry your knife fully. Please make sure your knife is bone-dry before storing it. 

  1. Dry with a towel: Take a clean dish towel or paper towel, and dry off your knife, completely.
  2. Use your fingers to feel for moisture: Feel the blade and handle with your fingers when you’re finished with the towel. You do this to confirm that the knife is totally dry. 
  3. Store safely: Place the knife somewhere safe, like a leather saya or a magnetic rack for storage.

There you have it. How to wash and dry your knife like a professional. If you’re ready for an upgrade, join us, as we improve the quality of knives across America.

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